Re Senate Panel Is Set to Vote on Bolton Nomination Today, by Douglas Jehl, New York Times, May 12, 2005:
For goodness sake, how complicated can this be? Did John R. Bolton, Bush’s nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, misrepresent intelligence or didn’t he? Did he break rules or not?
This hopelessly neutered news account dares not say.
The article opens with the news that
John R. Bolton has told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that a policy maker should maintain the right to “state his own reading of the intelligence” even when it differs from that of intelligence agencies.
So what? As the article points out in paragraph #3,
several former senior intelligence officials said the widely accepted view was that policy makers had a right to state their own views about intelligence matters, but that they also had an obligation to be accurate and to make explicit when they were stating personal opinions.
Nevertheless, the article states in paragraph #2 that
Democrats [sic] legislators opposed to the nomination … said they would cite [Mr. Bolton's statement] as evidence that Mr. Bolton would adopt a loose standard for accuracy in making statements based on intelligence.
Is there any reasonable basis for such an assertion? Only in paragraph #15 does the Times timidly allow that there might be:
Under current practice, policy makers are free to state their own opinions, and have always insisted that intelligence agencies do not have standing to address policy issues. But in offering public assessments of intelligence information, policy makers have generally deferred to the agencies’ views, as spelled out through a strict interagency clearance progress [sic].
So … Bolton’s statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says he intends to disregard the “strict interagency clearance process”?!
If so, shouldn’t paragraph #1 say something like:
John R. Bolton has told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that a policy maker should maintain the right to “state his own reading of the intelligence” even when it differs from that of intelligence agencies. The statement defies a strict interagency clearance process requiring policy makers to defer to the agencies’ views when offering public assessments of intelligence information.
Is there any good reason why the Bush-friendly “policy makers have a right to state their own views” appears in paragraph #3, while the contrasting “public assessments of intelligence generally defer to the agencies’ views” — which is essential to make sense of the Democrats’ opposition described in paragraph #2 — is buried in #15?
And how are these contrasting positions logically consistent? Policy makers have a right to state their own views on intelligence — but not publicly??
How is #15 even internally consistent?
In offering public assessments of intelligence information, policy makers have generally deferred to the agencies’ views, as spelled out through a strict interagency clearance process.
Policy makers generally adhere to the “strict interagency clearance process,” but not always? It’s strict … but flexible??
The article reports that the Democrats circulated a summary outlining their arguments that
Mr. Bolton should be disqualified because of “four distinct patterns of conduct,” including his efforts to seek the removal of intelligence analysts who disagreed with him; his role in seeking “to stretch intelligence to fit his views”; his “abusive behavior and intolerance for different views” in his relations with colleagues and subordinates; and his “disingenuous or nonresponsive statements to the committee.”
“Four distinct patterns of conduct.” Is there as much as one specific item of conduct that is factually established and clearly wrong?
The Times does not disclose the answer. But it does offer the amazing news that “Republicans have prepared a rebuttal to each charge.”
From paragraph #16 (beginning “Among newly declassified documents being reviewed by the committee”) until the end of the article (paragraph #23), the article reports nothing more than internal conflicts between Bolton and intelligence agencies, without any information to indicate who if anyone is to blame.
The reporter describes newly declassified documents provided to the Times as if he scarcely understands English: “Many … reflect intense, angry debate between Mr. Bolton’s office and senior intelligence officials.” That could mean anything. Maybe Bolton’s a nut. Or maybe he’s a committed, hardworking patriot.
The bottom line is that “Mr. Bolton never delivered the testimony” to which the agencies objected. So where’s the beef?
Times-related items at urielw.com > The Times: News That’s Unfit